The Razor's Edge.

The Razor's Edge is a 1944 film based on the W. Somerset Maugham novel of the same name.


Singing rolesEdit

Non-singing rolesEdit


The film, in which W. Somerset Maugham is himself a minor character, drifting in and out of the lives of the major players, opens at a party held following World War I in 1919 at a country club in Chicago, Illinois. Elliott Templeton, an expatriate, has returned to the United States for the first time since before the war to visit his sister, Louisa Bradley, and his niece, Isabel, engaged to be married to Larry Darrell, of whom Elliott strongly disapproves for rejecting both inclusion in their social stratum and working in the common world.

Larry is traumatized by the death of a comrade who sacrificed himself on the last day of the war to save Larry and announces that he plans to "loaf" on his small inheritance of $3,000 a year. He refuses a job offer from the father of his friend Gray, a millionaire who is hopelessly in love with Isabel, too. Larry and Isabel agree to postpone their marriage so that he can go to Paris to try to clear his muddled thoughts. Meanwhile, Larry’s childhood friend, Sophie Nelson, settles into a happy marriage with Bob MacDonald, only to lose him and their baby in a car crash.

In Paris, Larry immerses himself in a Bohemian life. After a year, Isabel visits and Larry asks her to marry him immediately. Isabel does not understand his search for meaning and breaks their engagement. Before she returns to Chicago she cannot carry through with a scheme to seduce Larry and trick him into making an "honest woman" of her. She marries Gray to provide her the elite social and family life she craves. Meanwhile, Larry works in a coal mine in France, where a defrocked priest, Kosti, urges him travel to India to learn from a mystic. Larry studies at a monastery in the Himalayas under the tutelage of the Holy Man, then makes a lone pilgrimage to the mountaintop where he finds enlightenment. The Holy Man tells Larry to return to the world to share what he now knows about life.

Back in Paris, Maugham meets Elliott by chance and learns that Isabel and her family are living with Elliott after being financially ruined by the stock market crash of 1929. Gray has had a nervous breakdown and suffers from terrible headaches. Elliott "sold short" before the crash and "made a killing" in the market. Maugham arranges a lunch for Elliott and his household to meet an old friend, who turns out to be Larry. Larry is able to help Gray using an Indian form of hypnotic suggestion. Later, while slumming at a disreputable nightclub, they encounter Sophie, now a drunkard. Larry undertakes Sophie's reformation, and out of lofty motives arranges to marry her; but when he tells Isabel, who is still in love with him, she plots to prove to Larry that Sophie's reform is only temporary. She successfully tempts Sophie back into drinking and Sophie disappears. Larry's last endeavour to reclaim his childhood companion from her depravity and despair proves fruitless. Sophie is murdered and her death reunites Larry and Maugham during the police investigation.

Maugham and Larry visit Elliott on his deathbed in the South of France. Larry gives Elliott peace of mind after he is deliberately excluded from an important soiree hosted by a princess with whom he had a row, herself once an American Midwesterner like Elliott. Larry persuades Miss Keith, her social secretary, to allow him to use a blank invitation to counterfeit one for Elliott. Isabel inherits her uncle's fortune, which she can use to underwrite Gray's attempt to rebuild his father's bankrupt brokerage. Larry refuses to reconcile with Isabel, deducing that she caused Sophie's return to drinking, and ultimately, her murder. Instead he decides to work his way back to America aboard a tramp steamer. Maugham tries to console Isabel with the knowledge that Larry is happy because he has found in himself the quality of true "goodness."

Musical numbersEdit

  • "Mam'selle" - Singer
  • "Loch Lomond" - Miss Keith
  • "Freré Jacques" - Isabel's Daughter